Commuters are heeding warnings to avoid Waterloo

 

Upgrade work at Waterloo station this month

 

Effective year-long campaigns to publicise disruption that will be caused by the Waterloo station upgrade throughout August has seen nearly half of South West Trains’ regular passengers make alternative travel and working arrangements.

A survey by Transport Focus, published before the works started on August 5, showed that a third of regular passengers have arranged to work from home or alternative offices on some days, nearly 20% will use a different route and a quarter will take annual leave for part of the period.

During the works, which will provide capacity for an extra 45,000 passengers at the busiest times of day, 10 platforms at Waterloo will be closed and significantly fewer services will run on suburban routes across the SWT network. Queuing systems have been organised outside many commuter stations and at major interchanges including Clapham Junction and Vauxhall. SWT customer service director Adam Piddington said the decision to set up queuing systems had not been taken lightly, but was an honest response to the reduction in capacity. Passengers have been warned to expect queues of 30 minutes at Waterloo, at least 20 minutes at numerous other stations and up to an hour at the worst affected stations in Surrey.

Over nine out of ten passengers (91%) are now aware of what is going on, knowledge of the reasons for the work has gone up and information is seen as good

Transport Focus said that overall the information campaign had been successful. “Over nine out of ten passengers (91%) are now aware of what is going on, knowledge of the reasons for the work has gone up and information is seen as good,” it commented before the upgrade began.

However, the watchdog also noted that lessons could be learned for future major upgrades including more information to publicise that detailed journey planner information was available 12 weeks before the works started and providing printed timetables sooner than three weeks in advance. The survey showed a significant proportion of passengers (30%) were dissatisfied with the detail provided, in particular saying more information on how their specific route would be affected would have been helpful. 

During the works from August 5-28, Transport Focus will carry out short customer experience surveys and recommend any necessary improvements to Network Rail and SWT, for example on whether staff need to provide more assistance.

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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